Orchestra Musings

Last night’s rehearsal couldn’t have been more different from last week’s train wreck. We were relaxed, precise, and we sounded like we knew what we were doing. I was particularly impressed with our rendition of Overture for an Unwritten Comedy; for a piece that’s remarkably obscure, we sounded as if we’d heard it all our lives.

Last night I was in the cello zone – you know, that state of mind/body where the hands instinctively go where the correct sound will be produced without any conscious thought or deliberate movement. It’s where most musicians want to be when they perform. That little corner of my mind which observes what I’m doing and provides a running commentary was stunned by my hands flying over the fingerboard, playing notes in places which if I’d stopped to think about I’d guess entirely wrong.

We also played the Carmen suite. I’ve seen Carmen and was thoroughly unimpressed; I cannot understand its popularity. I keep forgetting, though, how much I like the suite’s music. Each time I think, “Oh, we’re playing the Bizet,” I experience a negative response… until we actually begin playing. I think I’ve been conditioned by last year’s dreadful struggle with Bizet’s L’Arlesienne suite. Bizet = oh no. I’m trying to break that.

For some reason, the piece I’m having the most trouble preparing for the July concert is Haydn’s Military symphony. I adore Haydn; I always have. I’ve played a couple of his symphonies now, and I’ve enjoyed every one. This one, however, is nicknamed “Military” for a reason: it’s written (and hence ought to be played) in very strict time. The rhythms are very staccatto. I have discovered that I prefer playing expressivo singing lines. Subdivision in strict time is my arch-nemesis. (That and tenor clef, but we won’t go there.)

All in all, it was a wonderful night, and even though there was a graduation ceremony going on at the high school which meant I had to park six blocks away, it was a beautiful evening to walk in the dark with my cello on my back, gazing at the sliver of the crescent moon riding low in the western sky on a faint veil of cloud.

Life’s pretty good.

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